Sunday, June 10, 2007

Into The Center (City)

Well, today after worship (in which Jamison preached - video coming soon), we packed the kiddos, ourselves, and various "stuff" and headed into Center City to check out some of the sites. By the way, as a note to my non-Philly readers, Philly doesn't have a "Down Town" we have "Center City." It's different, because it just is. Anyway, as I mentioned in a previous blog entry, this was the first time I'd been down to see these sites since I was a pre-teen - and I was amazed at how much the experience had been updated!

Two years ago The National Constitution Center was opened up down at one end of Independence Mall. I've been itching to get down there and see it, but I have two children under 8 and I've known that such a trip wasn't going to last very long no matter how much they made the exhibits interactive. Since Jamison and clan were in town, though, I figured it would be an awful thing to miss, given that it's currently one of the biggest attractions in Philly. So away we went, past the new visitor's center (which I need to go spend more time in) and up to the end of the Mall to go someplace I'd never been before..

It's not a bad presentation. I honestly didn't know what the set up of the center would be, or what the exhibits would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised. The attractions contained not just the history of the creation of the Constitution, but also the history of the Constitution as it's come to touch the lives of Americans in various ways. I appreciated it's attempt at showing what was good about the experiment our Constitution put forward, while at the same time not making an attempt to mask the warts of the very same Experiment in how it's treated people throughout our 200+ years as a nation (the "Would You Be Able to Vote?" kiosks were a nice touch, I thought).

The one thing that I was really disappointed about, however, was that there was no photography allowed in the exhibit area. Good grief, I just want to snap a picture of my kids in front of the fake fireplace with the radio playing FDR's speech to congress the day after Pearl Harbor - what's wrong with that? Heck the official security zone allowed me to take pictures, but not a "please touch" type museum? Sad.

After breezing through the constitution center (I really need to go back sans kids), we popped over to the new Liberty Bell pavilion. Now I do admit that I've never seen the Liberty Bell before, because we always looked at that attraction and the lines around it as kinda tedious, but today I didn't have an excuse, I went and saw the bell. Again, I need to go back sans kids so I can read the exhibits - but when I finally saw the bell I thought, "This is it?" I mean, it's cool, don't get me wrong, it's the Bell, but you grow up with this larger than life image of the Liberty Bell around here (it's everywhere),when you finally see it an realize the think ain't that big it's a bit of a letdown). I guess I would've been more struck by the uniqueness of this artifact if it had been a bit more difficult to access. the huddle of 50+ people all trying to get snapshots (including me) just kinda made the space "common." It wasn't what I expected at all. So much for the larger-than-life childhood image. Next thing you know someone will tell me that the Tooth Fairy doesn't exist or some nonsense like that...

From the Liberty Bell, our crew headed through the Independence Hall security check point and relaxed on the grounds a bit before our tour started. It was nice to chill out a bit - but it was odd being penned into a space that used to be completely open and freely accessible (I remember when you used to just be able to walk into Independence Hall without being challenged. The tour of the Hall was great, our guide was excellent, but you don't get to up upstairs anymore, which is kind of a bummer (the upstairs reception hall is cool). I did get to snap some shots of the room where America really got started, though, and that was cool.

Jamison and I then had cheese steaks for dinner (not in Center City, the kids were wiped and Reading Terminal Market was closed), and Jamison's wife had her first hoagie (what's a hoagie?). All in all, a good day.


Dr. Qohelet said...

If you want to go up stairs you have to go earlier in the year. They don't allow folks up there in the summer (i.e. after Memorial Day) as far back as I can remember. Last year I took the prophets their on their spring brake. They had a great time. We got to go up stairs ;-)

wezlo said...

Dang it.